Monday, January 20, 2014

Gifts of Grandeur: An Enamel Pendant Case, 1325

This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This pendant case dates to 1325 and is made from silver, silver gilt and translucent enamels. The top of the pendant features a balustrade of openwork quatrefoils, the vertical edges of which are pinnacled buttresses. Each side of this unusual case is inset with an enameled plaque.

The top panel slides to open, and the inscription “AVE MARIA GRACIA PL[ENA]” is engraved in Lombardic lettering. The enamel plaques feature heraldic and romantic scenes.  

The place of origin of this particular piece is debated, but it is believed to have come from either France or Great Britain.  Nevertheless, it was made to hold spices and scents in order to combat the rather pungent air that surrounded most cities and towns.  This personal treasure was intended to be worn around the neck, or suspended from a belt or girdle.  

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